nep-dev New Economics Papers
on Development
Issue of 2021‒11‒29
fifteen papers chosen by
Jacob A. Jordaan
Universiteit Utrecht

  1. Stunting, double orphanhood and unequal access to public services in democratic South Africa By Grace Bridgman; Dieter von Fintel
  2. Droughts and Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change By Luis Guillermo Becerra-Valbuena
  3. Water Treatment and Child Mortality: Evidence from Kenya By Johannes Haushofer; Michael Kremer; Ricardo Maertens; Brandon Joel Tan
  4. Impact of mining boom on the quality of public goods in Sub-Saharan Africa By Luisito Bertinelli; Arnaud Bourgain
  5. Can Interventions Targeting Community Attitudes Improve Education for Marginalized Students? Evidence from a Mixed-Methods Experimental Design in Zimbabwe By Ardyn Nordstrom
  6. How do Climate Shocks Affect the Impact of FDI, ODA and Remittances on Economic Growth? By Alassane Drabo
  7. Closing the Gender Profit Gap? By Batista, Catia; Sequeira, Sandra; Vicente, Pedro C.
  8. Harmful Norms: Can Social Convention Theory Explain the Persistence of Female Genital Cutting in Africa? By Congdon Fors, Heather; Isaksson, Ann-Sofie; Lindskog, Annika
  9. Kill Your Darlings? Do New Aid Flows Help Achieve a Poverty Minimizing Allocation of Aid? By Tengstam, Sven; Isaksson, Ann-Sofie
  10. Many Rivers to Cross: Social Identity, Cognition and Labour Mobility in Rural India By Michiels, Sébastien; Nordman, Christophe Jalil; Seetahul, Suneha
  11. Population Homeostasis in Sub-Saharan Africa By David De la Croix; Paula Eugenia Gobbi
  12. Agricultural Transformation, Technology Adoption and Inclusion of Small Farmers: The Case of Dairy in East Africa By Liz Ignowski; Bart Minten
  13. Concrete Thinking About Development By Martina Kirchberger; Keelan Beirne
  14. Modelling the impact of Ovulatory Cycle Knowledge on the number of children and age of women at first birth By Babbar, Karan; Dev, Pritha
  15. Fertilizer use and risk: New evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa By Nauges, Céline; Bougherara, Douadia; Koussoubé, Estelle

  1. By: Grace Bridgman (Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University); Dieter von Fintel (Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University)
    Abstract: Orphans who lack household or community support face significant socio-economic disadvantages. In particular, they are at greater risk of malnutrition and stunting in developing countries. Children who have no living parents, also called double orphans, are most likely to require support from extended families or public institutions. This paper explores how WASH infrastructure, and public health and social services relate to stunting. It is one of the first studies to analyse these factors with a specific focus on double orphans, who tend to live in under-serviced areas with high stunting rates and poor access to public resources. We collate a cross sectional spatial dataset with local child stunting rates from 2013, rates of double orphanhood, private household resources, and public services from 2011 for South Africa, a country where the HIV/AIDS pandemic has led to high rates of double orphanhood. We estimate spatial econometric models that account for unobserved regional shocks and measurement bias, but which do not address other biases. Our results show that high stunting rates, particularly in areas with high proportions of double orphans, overlap strongly with poor provision of WASH and the availability of household resources. By contrast, other softer services accessed outside the home, such as access to health, social welfare and early childhood development facilities are not correlated with stunting in the same way. WASH is more strongly related to reduced stunting when infrastructure covers larger geographic areas and with the combined use of services from adjacent areas. This occurs because of economies of scale in provision and preventing transmission of disease across regions. Policy makers can explore the option to reduce stunting by expanding geographic networks of WASH service delivery into under-serviced areas where double orphans tend to locate.
    Keywords: Stunting, double orphanhood, spatial inequality, WASH infrastructure, service delivery, spatial econometrics, South Africa
    JEL: I14 J13 H4 R1
    Date: 2021
  2. By: Luis Guillermo Becerra-Valbuena (PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement)
    Abstract: This article analyses the effects of droughts and climate variability on short-term and medium-term adaptation of Colombian rural households. I measure drought in a Differencesin-Differences (DID) framework, as an alternative to the standard approaches decomposing the effects from climate and yearly weather deviations on agricultural productivity and those using the growing degree days and harmful degree days. In the short-term and mediumterm, rural households adapt to the drought of 2010 by increasing the total area planted in crops and livestock, (increasing also the total gross agricultural productivity in value terms) and by working more on the farm. The droughts also increased the use of external sources of water in the farm and made rural households postpone non-housing investments in the farm. I find heterogeneous effects according to the long run mean of temperature in the municipality. Higher temperature affects positively gross agricultural productivity in low-temperature municipalities but negatively high-temperature municipalities. Cereals and coffee seem to benefit from higher temperatures, while vegetables and fruits are more affected.
    Keywords: Climate change,Weather,Agriculture,Gross productivity,Adaptation,Rural impacts
    Date: 2021–11
  3. By: Johannes Haushofer; Michael Kremer; Ricardo Maertens; Brandon Joel Tan
    Abstract: Each year, around 500,000 children under 5 die from diarrhea, making it the third-leading cause of death in this age group. More than 80 percent of these deaths are attributable to unsafe drinking water. Drinking water can be made safe through dilute chlorine solution, but take-up of this technology has been low. Previous work has shown that free community-wide provision of dilute chlorine solution through “dispensers” – reservoirs of chlorine solution at water sources that make chlorination easy and free – increases take-up of chlorination. However, it has remained unclear whether this increase also translates into reduced mortality. Here we show that four years of community-wide provision of dilute chlorine solution in rural Kenya reduces all-cause under-5 mortality by 1.4 percentage points (95% CI: 0.3 pp, 2.5 pp), a 63% reduction relative to control. We estimate that at USD 25 per DALY averted, free provision of chlorine solution is twenty times more cost-effective than the WHO “highly cost-effective” threshold.
    JEL: I15 O1
    Date: 2021–11
  4. By: Luisito Bertinelli (Department of Economics and Management, Université du Luxembourg); Arnaud Bourgain (Department of Economics and Management, Université du Luxembourg)
    Abstract: "In this paper, we investigate the impact of public mining revenues on perception " indicators of public goods quality in five mining countries that have recently experienced a boom in their government revenues: Burkina Faso, Ghana, D.R. Congo, Tanzania, and Zambia. The effect of the tax revenue boom is identified using a difference-in-differences estimation strategy. Our estimations indicate that people living in mining regions as having a sense of structural disadvantage in terms of the provision of public goods; however, this perception is pro-cyclical in the presence of resource booms/busts. Our results hold even after taking account of the possible endogeneity of our measure of resource revenue.
    Keywords: mining; resource boom; public goods; mining areas; Sub-Saharan Africa.
    JEL: I31 O13 O55 Q33
    Date: 2021
  5. By: Ardyn Nordstrom
    Abstract: This paper uses a quasi-randomized field experiment in Zimbabwe to understand the impact of a large-scale intervention targeting community attitudes. I measure the impact that the program has had on attitudes, the behaviour of teachers and caregivers, and the learning and progression outcomes of at-risk youth. The quantitative survey and learning assessment data I use for this is complemented by transcripts from focus groups and interviews, which I analyze using innovative text mining methods to measure changes in community sentiment towards marginalized groups. I find that the program improved community attitudes toward girls’ education by 0.403 SD over the three and a half year project. This contributed to a 20.9 percentage point increase in the likelihood that students in the treatment group reported receiving enough support from their community to continue learning during COVID-19 school closures, along with other changes in the behaviours of community members and families. The program facilitated better learning and progression outcomes, with marginalized students performing 0.28 SD better on learning assessments after the project. These findings lead to two important conclusions about the efficacy of interventions designed to reshape community attitudes. The first is that community attitudes can be influenced in a relatively short time to become more supportive towards marginalized groups. The second is that these interventions can support education outcomes. This paper also demonstrates the usefulness of qualitative methods and natural language processing techniques for future experimental work.
    Keywords: Education, Attitudes, Development, Text mining, Mixed-methods evaluation
    JEL: I25 H43 C10
    Date: 2021–11
  6. By: Alassane Drabo
    Abstract: The three main financial inflows to developing countries have largely increased during the last two decades, despite the large debate in the literature regarding their effects on economic growth which is not yet clear-cut. An emerging literature investigates the dependence of their effects on some country characteristics such as human and physical capital constraint, macroeconomic policy and institutional capacity. This paper extends the literature by arguing that climate shocks may undermine the effect of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), official development assistance (ODA) and migrants’ remittances on economic expansion. Based on neoclassical growth framework, the theoretical model indicates that FDI, ODA, and remittances improve economic growth, and the size of the effect increases with good absorptive capacity. However, climate shocks reduce this positive effect of financial flows in developing countries. Using a sample of low and middle-income countries from 1995 to 2018, the empirical investigation confirms the theoretical conclusions. Developing countries should build strong resilience to climate change. Actions are also needed at global level to reduce greenhouse gases emissions, and build strong structural resilience to climate shocks especially in developing countries.
    Keywords: inflows-economic growth nexus; effect of ODA; income group; role of Climate; effect of foreign direct investment; Climate change; Absorptive capacity; Foreign direct investment; Human capital; Middle East; East Asia; Asia and Pacific; North Africa; South Asia; Global
    Date: 2021–07–23
  7. By: Batista, Catia (Nova School of Business and Economics); Sequeira, Sandra (London School of Economics); Vicente, Pedro C. (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
    Abstract: We examine the impact of providing access to mobile savings accounts and improving financial management skills on the performance of female-led microenterprises in Mozambique. We find evidence that both interventions can improve business performance but the effects are highly heterogeneous. Combining both types of support is associated with a large increase in both short and long-term firm profits and in financial security for the microentrepreneur. This allowed female-headed microenterprises, particularly those with a higher baseline level of profits, to close the gender profit gap in performance and skills relative to their male counterparts. The main drivers of improved business performance are improved financial management practices (bookkeeping), an increase in accessible savings, and reduced transfers to friends and relatives. For female entrepreneurs with intermediate levels of profits at baseline, even just providing access to mobile money accounts can increase long-term profits and for the most disadvantaged microentrepreneurs it can at least in-crease levels of financial security. Uncovering this heterogeneity in impact within different types of female-led microenterprises can help improve the targeting of these interventions in the future.
    Keywords: microenterprise development, management, gender, mobile money, financial literacy, economic development
    JEL: O15 O16 G53 J16
    Date: 2021–10
  8. By: Congdon Fors, Heather (University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics); Isaksson, Ann-Sofie (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)); Lindskog, Annika (University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics)
    Abstract: This paper investigates the explanatory power of social convention theory for explaining the persistence of female genital cutting (FGC) in a broad sample of African countries. While influential in policy circles, the idea that FGC is best described as a bad equilibrium in a social coordination game has recently been challenged by quantitative evidence from selected countries. These studies have pointed towards the importance of private preferences. We use novel approaches to test whether FGC is social interdependent when decisions also depend on private preferences. We test implications of the simple fact that according to social convention theory mothers will sometimes cut their daughters even if they do not support the practice. The substantial regional variation in FGC practices warrants investigation in a broad sample. Empirical results drawing on Demographic and Health Survey data from 34 surveys performed between 1992-2018 in 11 African countries suggest that cutting behavior is indeed often socially interdependent, and hence that it can be understood as a social convention. Our findings indicate that even if social convention theory does not provide the full picture, it should not be dismissed. Accordingly, interventions that acknowledge the social interdependence of cutting behavior are likely to be more successful than interventions that do not.
    Keywords: Female genital cutting; Social convention theory; Norms; Africa
    JEL: D71 D91 I15 O55
    Date: 2021–11–15
  9. By: Tengstam, Sven (Högskolan Väst); Isaksson, Ann-Sofie (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))
    Abstract: In this study, we derive a poverty-minimizing allocation rule, based on which we assess the poverty-efficiency of actual aid allocations, with a special focus on the comparative impact of new donors and new non-aid flows. The results suggest a substantial misallocation of aid. Our benchmark estimates indicate that donors should reallocate nearly half the total aid budget from aid darlings (countries receiving more aid than the allocation rule specifies) to aid orphans (countries receiving less aid than the allocation rule specifies). The estimated poverty-reducing efficiency varies considerably across donors. In terms of average poverty reduction per aid dollar, new global actors such as the Gates foundation perform well above average, whereas the non-DAC bilateral donors perform clearly worse. Overall, neither the new donors nor the new financial flows alleviate the observed misallocation of aid. While the new donors stand for a non-negligible share of overall poverty reduction, together they perform below average in terms of poverty reduction per aid dollar. Similarly, rather than counteracting the relative neglect of countries identified as particularly underfunded in terms of aid, the non-aid financial flows add to the inequitable distribution. For the countries that we identify as ‘aid orphans’, these flows are not significant enough to substitute for the lack of aid.
    Keywords: Aid allocation; Poverty; Donors; Official development assistance; Other official flows
    JEL: D63 E61 F35 O11
    Date: 2021–11–15
  10. By: Michiels, Sébastien (CREST); Nordman, Christophe Jalil (IRD, DIAL, Paris-Dauphine); Seetahul, Suneha (World Bank)
    Abstract: By considering the case of rural South India, this study analyses whether individual skills and personality traits are able to facilitate labour market mobility of disadvantaged groups in the presence of constraining social structures. We use an individual panel dataset built on two household surveys carried out in 2010 and 2016-2017 in Tamil Nadu. We explore the relationship between individual cognitive skills (Raven, literacy and numeracy scores), personality traits (Big Five Inventory) and earnings mobility. We first assess the extent of gender and caste-based labour market segmentation using transition matrices. Then, we take advantage of intra-group heterogeneity in terms of cognitive skills and personality traits to explore whether these personal characteristics can enable individuals to overcome rigid social structures. Results show that personality traits are important determinants of labour mobility. Nonetheless, we observe a strong rigidity of the labour market structure in terms of gender and caste, and its relative stillness over time.
    Keywords: occupational transition, income mobility, cognitive skills, personality, Tamil Nadu, India
    JEL: J24 J31 J71 O12
    Date: 2021–10
  11. By: David De la Croix; Paula Eugenia Gobbi
    Abstract: Global population growth remains one of the major challenges of the twenty-first century. This is particularly true for African countries which have been undergoing their demographic transitions. To investigate whether predicted increasing population density and urbanization can help to stabilize African population, we construct a database for 84 georeferenced Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) samples including 947,191 individuals in sub-Saharan Africa and match each location with gridded population density from NASA. We apply a proportional hazard model to evaluate the quantitative impact of local population density on the transitions from childlessness to motherhood, and from celibacy to marriage. Moving from the 5th to the 95th percentile of population density increases the median age at first birth by 2.2 years. This roughly decreases completed fertility by half a child. The same increase in population density increases the median age at first marriage by 3.3 years. These findings contribute to the understanding of why fertility has not dropped in Africa as fast as expected. One part of the answer is that population density remains low. Yet the total effect of increased density on fertility remains limited and counting on it to stabilize the population would be unrealistic.
    Keywords: Fertility, Homeostasis, Africa, Population densityeconomie de
    Date: 2021–11
  12. By: Liz Ignowski; Bart Minten
    Abstract: Based on unique primary surveys, we study dairy transformation processes in East Africa, specifically in Ethiopia and Uganda. Evidence on transformation and differential paths followed in doing so in these countries is often limited due to a lack of data. We note significant changes in the dairy sector over the last decade - with more adoption of cross-bred cows and higher milk yields - seemingly driven by rapid changes in local demand (Ethiopia and Uganda) and export markets (Uganda). However, while small farmers were included in that transformation in Uganda, they were not in Ethiopia. This was seemingly driven by better and cheaper accessibility for cross-bred cows that small farmers can better bear in Uganda.
    Date: 2021
  13. By: Martina Kirchberger (Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin); Keelan Beirne (Department of Economics, Princeton University)
    Abstract: This paper uses new micro-data on key input prices in the construction sector and market structure to understand the reasons for price differences and their implications for capital accumulation. Our key motivating facts are that (i) there is large dispersion in prices of eight key construction sector inputs and that cement prices were particularly high in Sub-Saharan Africa compared to the rest of the world; (ii) using data on the market structure of the cement industry at a global level, cement prices are highest in countries with few firms; (iii) cement plays a significant role in construction sector expenditures, particularly in the poorest countries. Estimates from our model of oligopoly suggest that lower levels of competition lead to significantly higher prices. Financial accounts data point toward substantial pure profits, and there is no evidence from plant size distributions that minimum efficient scale is driving high prices. Finally, embedding the oligopoly model into a neoclassical growth model, we show that distortions in investment producing sectors have a disproportionate impact on productive capacity and that the steady-state capital stock in the poorest countries is most sensitive to changes in markups in cement.
    Keywords: construction, infrastructure, capital, cement, investment, markups, general equilibrium
    JEL: E22 H54 L13 L74 O18 O41
    Date: 2021–06
  14. By: Babbar, Karan; Dev, Pritha
    Abstract: This study tries to bridge the gap by establishing the causal impact of ovulatory cycle knowledge (OCK) on the number of children and months to the first birth. We have analysed the data of 459957 women aged 15 to 34 using the Indian Demographic Health Survey. Our results establish a causal link and show that OCK is significantly and negatively associated with the number of children and months to the first birth. Governments and policymakers should focus on interventions targeting behavioural change to improve the OCK, especially for girls from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.
    Date: 2021–11–18
  15. By: Nauges, Céline; Bougherara, Douadia; Koussoubé, Estelle
    Abstract: Using a large representative dataset of 4,428 maize farmers from Burkina Faso with information on over 7,800 plots, we study the role of risk and farmers’ risk preferences in their use of nitrogen fertilizers. After characterizing the role of nitrogen on the moments of the maize yield distribution, we plug the plot-specific distributions into a structural model that allows for both risk preferences and probability distortion to elicit farmers’ underlying behavioural model. We found farmers to be only moderately risk averse and to distort probabilities; i.e., farmers overweight the small probabilities of getting high yields. Finally, running simulations, we find that prices are a more important driver of the quantity of nitrogen used on maize plots than farmers’ risk preferences. Our results suggest that input subsidy programs in this context, if well implemented, may have the potential to increase fertilizer use.
    Date: 2021–11–24

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